EFL

John Eustace predicts a big Birmingham future for Jay Stansfield

By Sports Desk August 26, 2023

Birmingham head coach John Eustace says match-winner Jay Stansfield will be a “really big player” for the club after his wonder goal gave his side a 2-1 win against Plymouth.

On-loan Fulham forward Stansfield, 20, volleyed home from the edge of the box in the fifth minute of time added on for a dream debut for the substitute to make it three wins out of four for Blues.

“Jay is an excellent player and it was an outstanding finish,” said Eustace.

“He comes with a real hunger and a great pedigree and for him to choose to come here over 12 or 13 other Championship clubs is a really massive statement of intent from the club.

“It’s very pleasing he chose to come to us.

“We’ve watched him over the last couple of seasons to see how he’s progressed and developed and he’s going to be a really big player for us.”

Eustace was relieved after Argyle played a full part in the game and looked like earning what would have been a hard-earned point until Stansfield’s wonder goal.

“Plymouth are in a really good moment. They have got really good momentum, they have a fantastic manager who plays the right way and they’re a fantastic footballing team,” he said.

“They did really well when we weren’t at our best and we knew they’d have a lot of the ball.

“It was a real collective performance in a game where we weren’t good with the ball which was disappointing.

“We need to be better when we have the ball but we were always a threat in transition.

“They had a couple of good chances from balls over the top where John Ruddy pulled off a couple of good saves.

“This was our toughest game of the season but we knew that if we defended our box properly then with our pace we had a chance on the turnover.”

Blues led in the eighth minute when Scott Hogan got ahead of Kaine Kesler-Hayden to slide the ball home from close range after the tricky Koji Miyoshi crossed from the left.

Plymouth equalised on the hour when Morgan Whittaker’s curling left-footed shot was saved by John Ruddy and Ryan Hardie reacted quickest to stab home.

Then came Stansfield’s moment of glory. The former Exeter attacker latched onto fellow substitute Lukas Jutkiewicz’s pass before lobbing Lewis Gibson then lashed a volley into the roof of the net to clinch victory.

Plymouth manager Steven Schumacher said: “I was gutted to lose the game in that fashion in the 95th minute again.

“And after what happened last week (Southampton’s Che Adams scored a 90th-minute winner to win 2-1) I’m devastated.

“Again I thought we played really well but I don’t want to keep saying after games that we did great but got beat – that’s doing my head in.

“But it’s part and parcel of football and we’ve got to learn from our mistakes.

“Today I felt we caused our own problems with that goal in the last minute.”

Schumacher felt if Argyle had stuck to their footballing principles they might not have conceded Stansfield’s wonder goal.

“There were 15 seconds to go and we had a throw-in – all day we’d played them short and controlled possession,” he said.

“This time we threw it short then tried a big diagonal pass and it probably wasn’t on.

“If we’d have kept possession and played it into the corner it would have been game over and we’d have gone home with a point.”

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